The top 10 Chinese restaurants in Scarborough
The top Chinese restaurants in Scarborough are, by all accounts, extremely subjective. I know that seems like an obvious statement, but such is the cultural mosaic of this oft-maligned part of the GTA that each end of the Chinese cuisine spectrum can be found here. Some would even argue that the area's Chinese culinary diversity surpasses even northern heavyweights like Markham and Richmond Hill.
Here are my picks for the top Chinese restaurants in Scarborough.
The menu items are so diverse, you'll get you a headache. The decorations are tacky and dated, while the atmosphere is more hectic than a Hong Kong intersection during rush hour (sans Jackie Chan). Yet everyone, time and time again, keeps on returning here for classic Cantonese Chinese cuisine. The wintermelon soup is a great and refreshing way to start your meal, and you simply have to order the beef and broccoli in fried taro nest. Their lobster is also great value.
There are many Asian Legend locations, but the best one in my books so far (as seen here) is the large flagship location at Brimley and Sheppard. With high ceilings, service that's friendly and quick, and the usual high quality of food synonymous with this Chinese restaurant chain, this location is definitely the one to go to. You can even book one of several sleek-looking private rooms if you have a larger group. Don't forget their excellent Peking Duck, along with the super juicy beef and green onion roll. You can even BYOB for a $10 charge.
Chiu Chow Boy
Chiu Chow Boy is a giant in the Chiu Chow Chinese cuisine scene. Its simple and modest exterior (with an equally utilitarian interior) belies the excellent food and speedy service. The braised tofu with duck is definitely a must-try, and their taro-fried rice is excellent. Just be prepared for heavy foot traffic during mealtimes, along with the loud noises of chatter and utensils clinking against each other, as is customary among popular old-school Chinese restaurants.
Royal Chinese Seafood
While many die-hard purists prefer to frequent establishments like Federick's or Kimling, for my money, this modest restaurant is the best Indian-style Hakka Chinese food. Start with the ridiculously crispy fried shrimp balls (the restaurant's specialty appetizer) and continue to the Manchurian fish or Royal pepper chicken. Add an order of their spicy masala-fried rice, and you're getting close to perfection.
Gourmet Malaysia is the place to go if you like your Chinese food with a Southeast Asian twist. This large restaurant, located right beside the Asian Legend mentioned above, serves up Singaporean and Malaysian style Chinese food. The Malaysian yellow fried noodles are a must-try, as is their fried squid with garlic salt (the best in town). For those who like it spicy, have a go at their laksa, and cool off with a nice creamy teh tarik.
Bashu Renjia Sichuan
Now this one is for the real die-hard spicy Szechuan Chinese food lovers. Frequented by many people from the actual Szechuan region, this is tongue-numbing yet delicious Chinese food at its finest. The shui zhu yu (spicy fish soup) is one of the best in town, and the spicy chicken (the name says it all) is also wonderfully tasty. Take note that the spiciness in the food here covers up neither the freshness nor the delicious taste of the meats and vegetables themselves. And that, for me, is the true sign of properly cooking spicy dishes. They also have a location in Mississauga.
Fishman Lobster Clubhouse
You need two things when you come to this restaurant: an empty stomach and a camera. The huge 8 or 9-pound lobsters that this place serves up are simply unbelievable mountains of beauty to behold. The deep fried garlic ones are my favourite, as the fragrance and crispness of the dish really shines through (while I throw away any expectation of this dish being good for me or my waistline). And at $16.99 per pound, you really can't go wrong.
If you've ever had a childhood dream to sample Chinese food served by attendants in European-housekeeper uniforms inside a Victorian mansion (hey, I'm not judging) then you should drop everything you're doing right now and head over to the Casa. The surefire hit here is the dim sum offerings which are all made in-house and fresh to order (case in point: one of the biggest hargow dumplings I've seen in the GTA), while your friends will be whipping out their smartphones to take a picture of the many chandeliers hanging around the place. Entertainment for all!
Ho Ho BBQ
The only true takeout joint on this list, it may also be the cheapest one. It has a barren interior and no-frills service but people will line up just to chow down on the succulent meats available here. For $5.50, you can get the mixed meat plate which contains roast pork and roast duck. Coupled with the simplicity of steamed rice, it's pure deliciousness on a budget. Cash only.
While fans (if you can call them that) of the forlorn-looking Bridlewood Mall wait anxiously to learn what new retailer will replace Zellers and breathe new life into the mall, Mr. Congee is quietly doing so all by him (it?) self. Featuring loads of congee offerings like my favourite scallop and shrimp congee, this wonderfully chaotic restaurant also boasts a large array of seafood dishes along with weekly specials.